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AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD’s Q1 2014 financial report shows a drop back into the red with a $20M loss, although investors seem bullish on the company’s future.


AMD’s most recent earnings report has investors impressed, with the company’s stock price rising almost 12 per cent on news of $1.4 billion in sales – despite an overall loss of $20 million for the first quarter of its financial year.

AMD’s quarterly earnings call this week announced $1.4 billion in revenue for Q1 2014, an impressive rise of 28 per cent year-on-year at a time when the global PC market is continuing to shrink – albeit slower than previously. While the quarter-on-quarter shrinkage of 12 per cent might seem like bad news, that’s comparing heavier sales in the run-up to Christmas to the post-Christmas slump; a sequential dip at this time is always to be expected.

A gross profit margin of just 35 per cent, indicative of AMD’s push towards the lower end of the market in CPUs and strong competition from rival Nvidia in GPUs, led to overall operating income of $49 million for the quarter; not enough, sadly, to prevent a loss of $20 million overall. With AMD ending the last quarter on an $89 million profit, that’s a blow – although one significantly less strong than the whopping $146 million loss the company made in the same quarter last year.

AMD continued our momentum by building on the solid foundation we set in the second half of 2013, further transforming the company,‘ claimed AMD president and chief executive Rory Read during the call with press, investors and analysts. ‘Backed by our powerful x86 processor cores and hands-down best graphics experiences, we achieved 28 percent revenue growth from the year-ago quarter. We are well positioned to continue to grow profitably as we diversify our business and enable our customers to drive change and win.

The company’s results show that the PC market slump, while slowing, is continuing to have an impact: AMD’s Computing Solutions business unit’s revenue dropped eight per cent quarter-on-quarter and 12 per cent year-on-year, due to a drop in shipments. Its operating loss, however, was a mere $3 million; down from $7 million last quarter and a painful $39 million in the same quarter last year.

AMD’s Graphics and Visual Solutions business unit is the most interesting story, however: a 15 per cent drop in sequential shipments has been more than offset by an impressive 118 per cent increase year-on-year, attributed to the company’s deals to put semi-custom system-on-chip (SoC) processors in the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. Overall, the division made a $91 million profit for the year, down from $121 million last quarter when Microsoft and Sony purchased their console chips but up from just $16 million in the same quarter last year.

During the conference call, AMD’s Lisa Su, general manager of global business units, confirmed that the company is still in the design stages of a new semiconductor process node. ‘We are 28 [nanometre] this year, we have 20 nanometre in design, and then FinFET thereafter,‘ she claimed in response to an analyst query – suggesting that 20nm parts won’t be available in quantity until 2015 at the earliest, with the 3D FinFET transistor move – designed to compete with Intel’s Tri-Gate Transistor technology – likely to come the year after.

Su also had positive things to say about AMD’s foray into the low-power server market with Cambridge-based ARM’s IP. ‘There’s been a lot of customer interest around Seattle [chips], so certainly for the server guys, the hyper-scale guys and then even some adjacent markets, there’s good customer interest, claimed Su. ‘I’ll say the interest in the platform is quite high and it’s a major milestone for us to introduce our first 64-bit ARM chip into the market.

What we’re doing here is identifying this opportunity long before it has taken place,‘ added Read, ‘and we’re catching it just as the way it is forming. That’s the kind of innovation leadership that we really want to go after. This is going to be an important market over the next three, five years, and we have an opportunity to truly lead in this ARM server ecosystem, and take advantage of our ambidextrous capability. This is spot-on in the strategy.

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Intel pledges Skylake ramp in 2015

Intel pledges Skylake ramp in 2015

Intel has pledged to begin mass production of its 14nm Skylake family in the second half of 2015, despite the schedule slip suffered by predecessor Broadwell.


Intel has pledged to continue with plans to begin mass production of its next-generation Skylake chips in the second half of next year, despite the schedule slip that delayed predecessor Broadwell.

Broadwell, the successor to the current-generation Haswell microarchitecture, is based on a 14nm process node which has been giving Intel a spot of bother. Plans to begin mass production of Broadwell processors last year were postponed due to yield problems at the extremely small feature size required of the parts. Although since resolved, Broadwell is still hanging back with rumours claiming overstock of Haswell parts is staying Intel’s hand.

The delays that have beset Broadwell may have a knock-on effect for its successor, Skylake. Detailed in a slide leaked in July last year, Skylake follows the process shrink of Broadwell with an updated microarchitecture at the same 14nm process node. Skylake will, the slide claimed, support PCI Express 4.0, Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) 3.2 and DDR4 memory. Officially, Skylake has no formal launch date but those following Intel’s earlier release schedules have expected a release some time in late 2015 to early 2016.

Although Intel refuses to comment on rumours surrounding its launch schedule, the company’s chief executive Brian Krzanich has suggested that Skylake will be hitting the market within its originally-rumoured timeframe. ‘We had a lot going on,‘ Krzanich claimed, in response to an analyst’s query regarding Intel’s use of Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) for SoFIA chip production, in his company’s most recent earnings call. ‘The ramp of Broadwell, the ramp of Skylake in the second half of next year, plus bringing these products inside.

Krzanich also confirmed plans to transition its mobile parts, including the outsourced SoFIA heavily-integrated chip, to internal production on a 14nm process. These moves, Intel has claimed, will boost demand for its parts – but profitability for its loss-making Mobile and Communications Group is a long way distant. ‘I’d say for 2015, I would expect to see reduction in the loss [of the group],‘ chief financial officer Stacy Smith added. ‘Not profitability, but a reduction in the loss will feel pretty good when we get there and then we’ll keep driving towards the long-term profitability goal.

Sadly, Intel did not confirm any further details regarding Skylake – but if production ramp is planned for the second half of 2015, retail availability should not be far behind.

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Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel’s Q1 2014 results slightly exceeded analysts’ expectations, but the company’s mobile arm is suffering a significant drop in revenue.


Intel has released its financials for the first quarter of 2014, and things are looking good with better-than-expected results despite its continued struggles to break into the mobile arena and a still-shrinking desktop market.

The company’s official figures for the quarter show $12.8 billion in revenue, exactly matching analysts’ expectations, with a gross profit margin of 59.7 per cent for a total earnings per share of $0.38 – above the $0.37 average expected by analysts. $3.1 billion of this came from the Data Centre Group, responsible for server and high-performance computing (HPC) products, which enjoyed a bumper 11 per cent boost in revenue over the same period last year; the PC Client Group, which targets the still-shrinking PC market, brought in the lion’s share at $7.9 billion, a one per cent drop compared to Q1 2013.

In the first quarter we saw solid growth in the data centre, signs of improvement in the PC business, and we shipped five million tablet processors, making strong progress on our goal of 40 million tablets for 2014,‘ claimed Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich during the company’s earnings call. ‘Additionally, we demonstrated our further commitment to grow in the enterprise with a strategic technology and business collaboration with Cloudera, we introduced our second-generation LTE platform with CAT6 and other advanced features, and we shipped our first Quark products for the Internet of Things.

Other highlights include a 10 per cent quarter-on-quarter drop in revenue for the Internet of Things Group which ended the quarter with $482 million in revenue, still an 11 per cent improvement over the same period last year thanks largely to new low-power Atom and Quark processor products. The company’s Mobile and Communications Group, responsible for smartphone and tablet oriented chips, was by far the biggest loser: with just $156 million in revenue, its income was down 52 per cent quarter-on-quarter and a massive 61 per cent compared to Q1 2013.

Investors seem pleased with Intel’s performance in the quarter, with the company’s share price rising 1.08 per cent in pre-market trading to $27.06, still short of its recent April 2012 high of $28.38.

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The Web at 25: Dot-com bubble bursts and breaks me, too

Part 1 of The Web at 25, my look back at the first quarter-century of all things www, left off with both the Web and myself at the peak of an awkward adolescence in early 1995.

This is where things start to get really interesting.

Data nerds who shunned the Web when Tim Berners-Lee first demonstrated it in the United States in 1991 could no longer ignore it mid-decade. After the pioneering Mosaic Web browser launched, the Web saw an annual growth rate in service traffic of 341,634 percent, according to author and early Internet evangelist Robert H. Zakon.


Me at age 17. Happy birthday, Web. I still can’t quit you after all these years, even though you did force me to try, once. (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
Marsha Henry)

In the span of about two years, Mosaic transitioned from a university-based project to a publicly traded company named Netscape that saw the price of its shares close at more than twice the opening price on their first day of trading in August of 1995. Companies grow up so fast these days, don’t they?

From that point, the dot-com bubble began inhaling all the air (and capital) in the room and didn’t stop until it left us all with economic Bubble Yum stuck to our faces.

There are millions of stories told about this epic boom, bubble, and bust period. This is mine.

It starts in 1997 with me at age 17 and a copy of Microsoft Frontpage in my parents’ basement and ends with me living in a double-wide trailer on the banks of the Yukon River in the Alaskan Bush five years later. Here’s what happened in between.

Respect my authori-tay!
Like many other young nerds of the era, I suddenly found around 1997 that my understanding and knowledge of the Web was commanding a lot more respect from people significantly more powerful, wealthier, and older than myself. By this time, using MS Frontpage, I had already built a few very simplistic Web sites for fun that were not even remotely attractive or very functional, but even my basic Web design skills were in high demand at the time, and it was still presumed that teenage nerds could be hired cheaply.

Suddenly I was taking meetings with one of the most powerful lobbyists in Colorado to talk about building a Web presence for key campaigns. I built a site for a top wedding photographer out of Boulder in exchange for learning her craft. When I went to college in September 1997, part of my financial aid package was a work study that made me one of the college’s main Webmasters as a first-semester freshman.


This was the Web site I designed to convince people to let me design their Web sites. For some reason, it worked. (Global means worldwide and ducks have webbed feet — get it?)


(Credit:
Eric Mack/CNET)

Here’s the kicker, though: I was a pretty bad Web designer. At the time, the Web seemed to be making everyone who touched it rich, spurring an outright panic by anyone who saw the emerging medium as either an opportunity or a threat. Businesses had to get online to stay competitive, as did politicians and even nonprofits, it turns out. They might not have understood what a domain name was, they just knew I could get them one.

And I did, at least until the rest of the world caught up with me, better Web designers became more plentiful (and cheaper), and the Web began to create opportunities to use another skill that I actually both enjoy and excel at (or at least I hope some readers think so).

I switched schools and majors from computer engineering to journalism and found that the Web would still provide. I landed a gig with an early iteration of MTV.com that took an earnest interest in America’s local music scenes. I spent the next few years traveling the Midwest to interview artists, take in live shows, and write snarky reviews. I was still a student. I wasn’t based in Silicon Valley or manning a startup, but I was still pursuing the dot-com dream for better or for worse. Sometimes it got a little out of hand.

After one particular show, my college girlfriend was a bit confused to find pop-punk darlings Good Charlotte in my living room along with a squad of local strippers providing a live demonstration of the latest technological advances in silicone. Those guys were straight edge, so there wasn’t any cocaine involved that night, but there were plenty of other nights and other bands.

I, being a good boy, never partook. No, really.

Reckoning
By early 2000, I had no interest in finishing my broadcast journalism degree and struck a deal to design my own degree in online media (again, this involved a work study maintaining part of the university Web site and teaching a Web design course to other undergrads — can’t beat cheap labor, I guess). I began working on a little graduate student’s project called Ironminds.com that was actually making a name for itself as a leading online magazine, competing with the likes of Salon and Slate.


This long-forgotten online magazine gave me my introduction to Silicon Valley. (Click to enlarge)


(Credit:
Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET /Archive.org)

I drove down to Austin that March with the Ironminds crew for
South by Southwest Interactive, where we had been nominated for Best Current Events Site. Remarkably, we actually won, beating out big media names like “The Daily Show.” I was 20 years old and I was part of something that smart people actually approved of, something that actually seemed to matter.

And for the first time, I felt as though I was among my own people. These people understood why I spent so many evenings glued to a monitor, trying to discern how the pieces all fit together, where it was going, where it could go.

At that year’s SXSW Frog Design party, I pulled Ironminds founder Andy Wang aside.

“Andy, I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to go to college. I don’t want to go back to Missouri. I want all this,” I told him. I’m pretty sure we were both a little drunk, but I was still dead serious.

“Go talk to everyone,” he told me. “Ask all of them for a job and then pick the best offer. You’re a f*****g award winner now.”

How come I’ve never heard this from any of my guidance counselors, I thought to myself. How absolutely brilliant.

By the end of that week I had a handshake agreement to start working at Business 2.0 magazine’s San Francisco Bay Area office within eight weeks. If you don’t remember Business 2.0, you could be forgiven. It was one of many such new publications at the time that didn’t survive in its original form (remember Red Herring or the Industry Standard? No? Well they were real once too.) Eventually it was swallowed by Time, Inc. and got lost somewhere in the fallout of the AOL Time Warner debacle before disappearing altogether around 2007.

History now tells us that the dot-com bubble actually peaked two weeks before that fateful trip to Austin, but it was still easy to believe at that moment that the party could continue forever. So I packed up and went to California for what I thought would be a permanent move. But it turned out to be a front-row seat for a great unraveling.

Rude awakening
From the beginning, working at a “new economy magazine” was not all that I had dreamed that night in Austin. The people were nice, but my chops weren’t yet well-honed enough to be a business reporter and I spent lots of my time copying text from the print magazine edition and pasting it on to the Web site. Not exactly the glamour I was hoping for, and how come we couldn’t write some code to do all that anyway?

My living situation also proved interesting. Eventually, after time in hostels and finally being grilled rather intensely during an interview with my future roommates, I moved into a three-bedroom house where I was one of five tenants (the garage had been converted into two more bedrooms). The setup was unexpectedly quiet, however, since the room next to mine was never actually used by the chief operating officer of a major networking company who rented it as an emergency crash pad much closer to San Francisco than her large home in San Jose, farther south. I never saw the other person living upstairs, who also worked for a dot-com. I never even found out which one.

There were high points at the office, like writing a story on Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who seemed to epitomize the spirit of Silicon Valley I was in search of, but ultimately I wasn’t happy and things quickly got weird around the office as it became clear that the epic ride of the last half-decade was beginning to run out of fuel. Particularly after we moved into a new office space near arguably one of the worst neighborhoods in America, it all seemed to come unglued very quickly. At a mid-summer staff retreat in the coastside town of Monterey, the tension was palpable, at least until it was all released in what may have been the largest collective binge I’ve ever been witness to. My editor ingested multiple mind-altering substances that weekend, broke one of hotel’s windows (with his head, was the rumor), and spoke in a Beavis and Butthead voice for several hours straight. And he was one of the more well-behaved of my superiors that weekend.

It’s hard to say exactly how many people moved to the Bay Area in search of that same dream during that time, but we do have a sense of how many ultimately joined me in abandoning the dream. An oft-cited figure places the number of people that quickly vacated San Francisco between 2000 and 2002 at 30,000, eventually making it the fastest-shrinking city in the country for a moment.

I went crawling back to college, and to Ironminds, which was ironically in the midst of being purchased by a group of “new-media investors” who moved it from Missouri to New York, rapidly poured millions into it, even after the bubble had clearly burst, and then shut it down just as quickly (although it did eventually lead to the creation of Deadspin via former Ironminds editor Will Leitch).

The dream that had helped me retroactively justify the self-imposed isolation of my adolescence seemed to be dead.

Set adrift
I turned my energies to improv and stand-up comedy, lazily finished my journalism degree, and began to see the value of drinking as a hobby. At the same time numerous ruined dot-com prodigies were retreating to yoga ranches and beyond, I took a gig living on a houseboat in the Florida Keys in exchange for — what else — Web design help.

I sometimes woke up on the beach after a long night at the bar on Big Pine Key and wasn’t sure if I was having a good time or too depressed to even recognize it.

Like many others, I kind of lost my mind for a little bit after the dot-com boom went bust.


(Credit:
Johanna DeBiase)

That fall I moved into a house in Denver with a few friends that I had grown up with to try and find a little grounding and figure what to do next now that Web design was providing me far less (I had to share that houseboat with 11 other guys and no air conditioning).

I delivered food and worked for family while still dabbling in Web design and writing jobs that suddenly paid next to nothing. 9/11 happened, the world seemed to be turned upside down, and that glitzy fantasy I encountered in Austin just 18 months prior felt like it had never even existed.

After months of sending resumes to anyplace that might be vaguely interested, I received exactly one job offer — from a tiny public radio station in the Alaskan bush that was not even reachable by roads.

I signed a two-year contract sight unseen and flew to Alaska. I did not bring a computer or cell phone. Perhaps it was time to grow up and put away those childish things. Without being too hyperbolic, I think the dot-com bust may have broken my heart more than a little bit. Those digital dreams had been banished to the wilderness, and now, so had I.

CNET comments are currently down for maintenance, and should be back soon. In the meantime, please share your memories of the dot-com boom and bust on Twitter at @crave and @ericcmack. In our next installment, I’ll celebrate the 25th birthday of the Web by looking at those years that I spent watching it develop and try to re-assert itself from a distance.

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IDC warns of PC market decline through 2018

IDC warns of PC market decline through 2018

The market for traditional laptops and desktops will continue to shrink right through to 2018, claims IDC – despite suggestions from rival Gartner that the slump could soon end.


Industry watcher IDC has warned that the market for traditional PCs is shrinking faster than ever, and predicts that its decline will continue through to 2018.

Despite claims from rival Gartner earlier this year that the PC market was due to bottom-out and return to recovery, IDC has a gloomy prediction which suggests growth is still a long way off. In its latest quarterly report, the company suggested that global PC shipments slipped by 9.8 per cent last year – the worst decline since it began tracking the market.

While that’s better than the dismal 10.1 per cent slump IDC had previously predicted, it’s indicative of a downward trend that the company suggests won’t be coming to a close any time soon. IDC’s projected shipment figures for 2014 claim worldwide sales of traditional PCs, both mobile and desktop, of 295.9 million, down from 315.1 million in 2013. The decline will then continue, IDC warns, through to 2018 when the global shipments will be as low as 291.7 million – still a significant figure, of course, but far from the growth a hopeful Gartner had predicted.

Much of the poor performance, IDC explains, comes from emerging markets. ‘Emerging markets used to be a core driver of the PC market, as rising penetration among large populations boosted overall growth,‘ claimed Loren Loverde, IDC’s vice president of worldwide PC trackers. ‘At the moment, however, we’re seeing emerging regions more affected by a weak economic environment as well as significant shifts in technology buying priorities. We do expect these regions to recover in the medium term and perform better than mature regions, but growth is expected to stabilise near zero per cent, rather than driving increasing volumes as we saw in the past.

This echoes comments made by Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa back in January: ‘In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet. As a result, the adoption of PCs in emerging markets will be slower as consumers skip PCs for tablets.

With traditional PC sales still dropping, Intel’s renewed focus on embedded and wearable systems becomes clear.

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Flaunt Magazine: If You Think This Universe Is Bad, You Should See Some Of The Others

February 25th, 2014 No comments

I.  LONDON

“This is where my place is on the world.”

And he can’t get inside of it. Jared Leto is juggling the contents of his pockets along with a conversation about the universe, lingering in a London hotel hallway, denied entry to his place in the world—albeit a temporary one, for a handful of evenings, until an airplane pulls him back up off the grid and the phone in his pocket is as hidden from the satellites as much as the lint.

“Fuck. Do you have the key?”

II.  LIGHT

Leto has endured multiple 15-hour days, ambling the gloom of British pavements, temporarily red-carpeted for the premiere of Dallas Buyers Club (a film for which he has rightfully been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and likely will have won it by the time you read this). His ability to not blink when a flashbulb shrinks his retinas to pinpoints, is not entirely an instinct, but likely mastered on stages throughout the globe, fronting his wildly popular rock outfit Thirty Seconds to Mars. Here is a man drenched more often than not in luminous floodlight. The lower-lumen sidewalk bulbs for film events are dim to him. One can imagine more evolved future ancestors of Leto’s marveling at how this creature managed to never blink in the face of a bright bulb, or the sun. Or, a challenge, for that matter.

Put another way: the muscles in his eyelids are barely used. Leto always appears aware. His eyes like cavernous wells of clear cerulean through which he can perceive his path; pre-destined and carved onto the parchment of an ancient scroll, the ink dripping down the quill barrel of a coal-black raven’s wing, staining the page like the tattoos that crawl up both Leto’s arms, ending at his neck. He has a map only he can see.

Certainly, this is a bit much. But we stand in the company of an individual entirely inhabiting his moment, and all evidence points to his luxuriating in it. This is a thankful and aware kind of pleasure, though, as a note of gratitude colors his every comment. It is interesting to listen to the soft-spoken Leto casually discuss being awarded over 30 prizes (so far) for his role as Rayon, the transgender AIDS patient who forms a business relationship (and unlikely friendship) with the homophobic and rodeo-rough Ron Woodroof (played by the also-nominated Matthew McConaughey). Leto did not cower recently, in Santa Barbara, when a film-festival attendee spoke out of turn, loudly from the throng, accusing him of  “trans-misogyny.” (Leto responded with his own question: “Because I am a man, I don’t deserve to play that part? So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian—they can’t play a straight part?”) Again, Leto does not blink, inviting the heckler backstage to continue their conversation in private.

So, among the things that have converged upon this place in the world—where Leto now stands, on the wrong side of a locked door in London—also include his recent music video for “Up in the Air” surpassing 17 million views (and counting), his entirely self-made documentary about battling the music industry (Artifact) climbing into the top ten most-watched documentary list on iTunes, and learning there are as many as 30 accolades to collect for a single supporting role, with more to come.

Something is clearly happening. Getting inside of this room is not it.

III.  EARTH

“The way that we think about our position in the world, in relationship to the planet, has changed because of the way we travel from place to place,” Leto says, plunging his thin hands into the pockets of his fur-lined, hooded parka. “We now look down on the planet rather than looking across. I met with the creator of Google Earth and he asked me, ‘What have you learned from using Google Earth?’ And, you know, I gave him some bullshit answer. But, actually, the thing that I learned is that we all see the planet differently now. We look down on ourselves. We used to look across the horizon. Now, we look down. We all have a map in our mind of where we may be and the ability to access that.”

And everyone else knows where he is, precisely, thanks to the phone in his hand. Jared Leto, like the rest of us, is but a pixel on a circuit board created by wealthy pale people in Silicon Valley.

“Exactly!” he exclaims, wide eyes widening more. “Your perspective changes because of location-based applications. Your perspective has now become, ‘This is where my place is on the world.’ Which is interesting. It’s from the top looking down. Which is kind of strange and interesting, that our perspective is from above. From space.”

IV.  STARS

These are odd thoughts coming from a star. A star is a dying thing. When someone is deemed a rising star, they are in fact dying at a faster rate than the ones merely flickering shyly in the deepest black. Where does that leave Leto?

He appears to be both rising and hovering, a kind of firefly that won’t be shooed. His mettle proven by just about every film he makes, primarily because of the great sacrifice—the risk—involved in every cherry-picked role. He knows when a film works or does not. Dallas Buyers Club works. The magical things aligned, fell into place, created a celestial pattern—if you will follow this thought through with us—a solar system, organized, with orbits, nothing colliding but a great story and its two lead actors at the peak of their all-or-nothing, take-me-as-I-am-or-not-at-all mid-career leaps into the wincing face of expectation. Leto once gained over 60 pounds and made a film we all forgot to go see (Chapter 27). He, as much as anyone else, is fine with that aspect of chance too: a risk without dividend.

“I’ve made a lot of films that have fallen short,” he admits. “Films where we had the right intentions. Independent art house films that we all had high hopes for, but fell short. Gaining sixty-seven pounds for Chapter 27. Yeah, I think I’m willing to risk everything. I don’t say that with any conceits. I say that as a fact. I don’t see there being reward in another way. At least any worthy one. So when they connect with people and the films resonate, or the performance resonates—it’s a really wonderful thing to celebrate that.”

V.  DOCUMENTATION

You can see the risk in Artifact. In it, Leto betrays a particular brand of frustration that never crosses over into tantrum. He absorbs information, lays it all out, and determines exactly how he can manage to continue pursuing the things he desires most in his heart. He expects nothing, but appears willing to lose everything. Artifact is a film he edited himself, so without seeing what bits were cut to create this impression, a leap of faith might be necessary. But it’s a simple story that anyone could learn from, and aptly named, because it will likely be studied in the future by anyone left in the music business who cares to know what went wrong in this overlap between the old way and the new.

The film tells the story of how Thirty Seconds to Mars went to battle with EMI over an unfair contract and how the “tiny” band beat the giant corporation. (Sort of. They end up re-signing a contract with the very beast they sought to topple, albeit on somewhat better terms.) The film has the potential for catharsis, but falls short. The beast has been merely wounded. It can still crawl. And, it is still hungry. Which is why it’s worrisome that Leto has chosen the likes of Daniel Ek (aka, the Thom Yorke-battered CEO of the streaming music service Spotify) to appear in his film to discuss possibilities of future fairness.

“Daniel Ek’s participation is really to talk about some of the possibilities in the future and some of the opportunities that are out there,” he says. “I think it’s all one great debate to have. Everyone has a voice. And artists should have more of an opinion and a voice and participate in the digital architecture of tomorrow. So I think it’s great that Thom [Yorke] is speaking up and speaking his mind. I’m all for that debate. I think the biggest issue is probably that Spotify is paying labels and then the labels are not paying artists. It’s back to that same old issue of corruption. Treating artists unfairly. The funny thing is, there’s enough to go around. They could make fair, transparent deals. They could treat artists like partners. And they’d still make plenty of money. But, for some reason, they don’t. Maybe they will. Not everyone is bad.”

VI.  PERFORMANCE

David Bowie has been able to do both, with varying levels of success. Prince can only play himself. Bruce Willis is a terrible harmonica player and Mick Jagger was only good in the 1970 film Performance (as himself). In this regard, you might have to look no further than Dallas Buyers Club to debunk the actor-musician curse. If not for Leto, then for his lover Sunny, portrayed by Deerhunter and Atlas Sound frontman Bradford Cox. The leap from rock stardom to screen stardom would appear, on the surface, to be effortless. They both demand a kind of theatricality, with each profession building up songs and stories as real places to inhabit. (Watch that Thirty Seconds to Mars video for “Up in the Air,” where the crossover is blissfully explicit.) Of course, there is also rock’s long legacy of androgyny for Leto to lean on too.

In the case of Rayon—as played by Leto—she memorably chides Woodroof for not recognizing a photograph of Marc Bolan of T. Rex. If you imagine that Leto might be reluctant to explore this particular area where the seams of his self-tailored suit (of music and film) are most tightly hemmed, you’ve forgotten (again) that Leto does not blink. He addresses the idea head on.

“The Marc Bolan element and the glam rock element of the film was the director’s contribution. I actually opposed that,” Leto says, matter-of-factly, absent any malice or ill will. “There was more of that in the film originally. And I think that for the director [Jean-Marc Vallée], that was his throughway. That was his kind of guidepost into the world that Rayon lives. It was a way for him to understand her. I think it probably made a really interesting aspect of the film, to have that connection and to have Rayon have one of his heroes be Marc Bolan. That’s great. Marc Bolan was an awesome person. But, for me, I made it very clear early on that I saw Rayon as a man who wanted to live his life as a woman, not someone who enjoyed putting on women’s clothing. If they wanted that kind of performance—or anything glam, or anything drag queen-y—I wasn’t the person for the part.”

When Leto speaks of Rayon, you hear the sound of someone recalling time spent with a loved one. Rayon is a person. She is a friend. Herein is what might make him the actor that he is. That Leto can long for a person who exists but cannot be pinpointed, never tied to a coordinate, but living on inside of him, as strong as the memory of a mate whose address has long ago been misplaced, back when people saved envelopes and tucked them in between the pages of overstuffed address books. What an old, cluttered, faraway analog world that seems to us now. A wonderful place, in other words.

“She’s an incredible, empathetic, beautiful dreamer,” Leto says of Rayon. “A heart the size of an ocean. She’s an absolutely one-of-a-kind creature. So, a lot of love and support for her as well. I feel like she became a person, a real person. Especially because I was so deep inside of her. I really feel like I got to know this person. It became like a living, breathing life. It was a once-in-a-lifetime role.”

VII. PATHWAYS

Door unlocked, Jared Leto is reclining inside his hotel room above the streets of London. It is dark. He has fielded questions from strangers and answered each one, from the banal to the belligerent, with nary a blink. Eyes wide, errant locks of long hair occasionally pushed behind an ear to get a better look, angling beneath the floodlights to get a good glimpse of his interlocutor. The fact is: Jared Leto doesn’t do what you are supposed to do and he gets away with it. Makes films when he wants to. Records when the time is right. It might be luck, it might be talent, it could be hard work, or it could just be fueled by the naïve optimism that comes from a once-broke Louisiana kid who was told early on that being creative might not make you any less broke, but it might make being broke a little less shitty. It’s why his eyes are wide and blinking them is a waste of precious time. There’s too much to take in, too much to see. Fuck Google Earth. Technology is a weed. It blocks pathways.

“This is a crazy time in my life, but it’s a focused time,” he says. “It’s not like it’s out of control. You only get to do this once and in this case once may be the only time you get to do it. It’s a funny way to say it, but it’s kind of true. I’m acutely aware of that and very respectful of the path I’m walking down. I’m glad that this happened to me now and not when I first started. It’s a really good thing.”

Article source: http://jaredleto.com/thisiswhoireallyam/2014/02/24/london-light-earth-stars-documentation-performance-pathways-w-flaunt/

Intel launches Merrifield and Moorefield mobile Atom processors

February 24th, 2014 No comments

Intel launches Merrifield and Moorefield mobile Atom processors

Intel Merrifield and Moorefield specs.


Intel has announced its latest mobile and tablet processors codenamed Merrifield and Moorefield.

Merrifield – now officially called Z3480 – is a dual-core SoC that will be available in the first half of 2014 while Moorefield will be a quad-core followup with improved graphics too, moving from PowerVR G6400 to G6430.

Both chips will be 64-bit, a point Herman Eul, VP and General Manager of Communications, emphasised by saying “we will be accelerating 64-bit mobile adoption to allow for richer and faster application experiences – both for Android and Windows”.

Falling under the Atom family, the new chips are being built on a 22nm process and, as with previous Intel mobile efforts, will by x86 based. As such they won’t be compatible with standard versions of Android, Windows Phone and the like.

This, along with less impressive power consumption figures than ARM-based solutions, has held back the company’s progress in getting a sizeable slice of the mobile market. However, Intel is aiming to increase this significantly through 2014, with Eul saying “We want to grow the number of Intel inside devices by 4X in 2014.”

Intel launches Merrifield and Moorefield mobile Atom processors
Intel is also expecting to transition to 14nm production this year with the likes of codename Cherry Trial. This builds on Bay Trail with new Airmont cores (14nm shrink of Silvermont) and a boost in graphics performance.

As well as these new application processors, Intel also revealed its XMM 7260 LTE-Advanced modem. The chip is currently certified to run on 70 percent of LTE networks globally with support for LTE speeds of 300Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink. The company confirmed it already has the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung onboard to use the chip.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bit-tech/news/~3/d7adD2TDKeQ/1


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Tell your friends their relationship sucks? Here’s an app for that

February 19th, 2014 No comments

Forever yes, surely.


(Credit:
ForeverNOT)

“I give it 12 months,” we say, while sitting in a dusty church pew wearing our oversized hat or only clean suit.

“Oh, I don’t know. She’s a bit friendly with the best man, if you ask me. Six months at best,” someone will mutter, just before singing a love song specially chosen by the newlyweds.

We fancy ourselves as knowing just how long it will take before a happy couple becomes an it’s-your-fault-you-lazy-faithless-farm-animal couple. We’d put money on it.

So sing hosannas to a disruptive tyke of an iOS app called ForeverNOT. This entirely helpful social service allows you not only to bet on the potential length of your own friend’s relationships, but also those of famously true lovers.

Yes, like Kanye and Kimmy. And Jennifer Aniston and whatshisname.

We feel like we know these people, even if we’re then surprised ourselves when we discover they’re not quite what was projected by their fine publicists.

There is, though, an aspect of this free app that is bracing in the extreme.

You know how you just don’t have the courage to tell your BFF she’s marrying a man whose wit glass isn’t even half full? Well, ForeverNOT allows the happy couple to see what you really think.

However, with the beauty that is currently very popular in apps, they won’t know who said it.

You, therefore, can be sanctimoniously secure that your opinions are being registered by those at whom they’re directed.

And the cheery coupling? Why, they’ll have hours and hours of fun (with their shrink) pondering not only that their friends think they have a 15 percent chance of surviving till Christmas, but that these supposed loved ones are too gutless to tell them the truth.

It’s so post-post modern as to be, well, modern.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/bikaBXEK6q0/

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Scientists create ‘highway of death’ for cancer

February 17th, 2014 No comments

Brain tumor

A computer illustration showing a tumor inside the brain, the nanofiber pathway, and the tumor-killing gel outside the brain.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Brain tumors known as Glioblastoma multiform cancer (GBM) are a particularly insidious form of the disease because they just don’t stay still. They travel through the brain by sliding along blood vessels and nerve passageways. This means that sometimes they move to parts of the brain where surgery is extremely difficult — if not impossible — or that even if the bulk of a tumor can be removed, chances are good its tendrils would still exist throughout the brain.

Scientists at Georgia Tech may have come up with a novel solution for this problem, though it may be years before the technique can be implemented on humans: creating special artificial pathways along which cancer can travel. These pathways could route cancer to a more easily operable area, or even a deadly drug located in a gel outside the body.

According to Ravi Bellamkonda, lead investigator and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, “the cancer cells normally latch onto…natural structures and ride them like a monorail to other parts of the brain. By providing an attractive alternative fiber, we can efficiently move the tumors along a different path to a destination that we choose.”

As reported Sunday in the journal Nature Materials, Bellamkonda and his team implanted nanofibers about half the size of a human hair in rat brains in which GBMs were growing. The fibers were made from a polycaprolactone (PCL) polymer surrounded by a polyurethane carrier and mimicked the contours of the nerves and blood vessels cancer cells like to use as a biological route.

One end of a fiber was implanted into the tumor inside the brain and the other was inserted into a gel containing the drug cyclopamine (which is toxic to cancer cells) outside the brain. Sure enough, after 18 days, enough tumor cells had migrated along the fiber into the gel to shrink the tumor size 93 percent more in rats that received the treatment than in those that did not.

S. Balakrishna Pai, a researcher in the laboratory of Ravi Bellamkonda in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, studies glioblastoma cell samples.


(Credit:
Georgia Tech: Rob Felt)

Not only does Bellamkonda think his technique could be used to relocate and/or destroy cancers, he says he believes it could be used to help people live with certain inoperable cancers as a chronic condition.

“If we can provide cancer an escape valve of these fibers, that may provide a way of maintaining slow-growing tumors such that, while they may be inoperable, people could live with the cancers because they are not growing,” he said in a statement. “Perhaps with ideas like this, we may be able to live with cancer just as we live with diabetes or high blood pressure.”

Many of today’s methods for treating cancer focus on using drugs to kill tumors. The Georgia Tech team’s approach was engineering-driven, thanks largely to Anjana Jain, the primary author of the study. She did her graduate work on biomaterials used for spinal cord regeneration. When she found herself working in Bellamkonda’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow, she came up with the idea of using engineered materials to route cancer cells.

Path of least resistance
This approach allows cancer to be treated with a device rather than with chemicals, potentially saving the patient many debilitating side effects. “One attraction about the approach is that it is purely a device,” Bellamkonda said. “There are no drugs entering the blood stream and circulating in the brain to harm healthy cells. Treating these cancers with minimally-invasive films could be a lot less dangerous than deploying pharmaceutical chemicals.”

Part of the innovation in the researcher’s technique is that it’s actually easier for tumors to move along the nanofibers than it is for them to take their normal routes, which require significant enzyme secretion as they invade healthy tissue. “Our idea was to give the tumor cells a path of least resistance, one that resembles the natural structures in the brain, but is attractive because it does not require the cancer cells to expend any more energy,” Jain explained in a statement.

Extensive testing, which could take up to 10 years, still needs to be conducted before this technology can be approved for use in human patients. In the meantime, Bellamkonda says he’d like to see if the technology can be used to lure other cancers that like to travel along nerves and blood vessels using what he describes as the “Pied Piper” approach.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/-mfxuaUqC4w/

Yitang Zhang: A prime-number proof and a world of persistence

February 12th, 2014 No comments

University of Nottingham physicist Ed Copeland uses a pen and paper to explain Yitang Zhang’s finding on bounded gaps between prime numbers.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET)

This is a story about prime numbers and the man who took a giant step toward solving a puzzle that has vexed mathematicians for centuries. That man, Yitang “Tom” Zhang, was exiled to the Chinese countryside during Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a teen and forced to quit his studies and perform hard labor. Later, after receiving advanced degrees in China and the US, he struggled to find an academic position and at one point worked behind the counter at a Subway sandwich shop.

“There’s nothing wrong with working at a Subway, but normally these proofs, these breakthroughs, are achieved by those that are working at Princeton, Harvard, these kind of really elite places,” Tony Padilla, a physics professor at the UK’s University of Nottingham, says in the Numberphile podcast below. “And now we’ve got somebody who’s literally come of nowhere, that no one expected to produce this kind of results, and has done something impressive that many great minds were unable to do.”

Yitang Zhang


(Credit:
Lisa Nugent, UNH Photographic Services)

Zhang himself says that “something impressive” probably has no practical application, though prime numbers do extend beyond the realm of pure math into more real-world uses.

“Fifty years ago no one would have dreamed that anything about primes had a practical application, and large, secret primes are now the basis of some of the cryptography that makes Internet commerce possible,” David Eisenbud, former head of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, Calif., told Crave.

Those who follow math closely may have heard of Zhang last year when a paper on his findings was accepted by the preeminent journal Annals of Mathematics just a short three weeks after being submitted, and other mathematicians responded to the research with exclamations like “beautiful,” “stunned,” and “astounded.”

Since then, the University of New Hampshire professor, who is in his late fifties, has been invited to speak at institutions like Harvard, Princeton, and UC Berkeley, and won two prestigious math prizes. His work has sparked a frenzy among mathematicians the world over, who have collaborated through the online Polymath project to further hone his proof.

Now, even artists are getting in on the story. San Francisco Bay Area playwrights belonging to SF PlayGround, which develops new theatrical works, recently attended a lecture on Zhang at the MSRI. The talk served as an inspiration for original math-themed short plays, some of which will be performed Monday night at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley, Calif., at a program titled “A Passion for Primes.”

Zhang’s finding relates to the Twin Prime Conjecture, a number theory problem that many attribute to the Greek mathematician Euclid. The conjecture holds that there is an infinite number of prime numbers (numbers divisible only by 1 and themselves) that are only two numbers apart — like 3 and 5 or 17 and 19. These so-called twin primes occur often at the start of the lower end of the number spectrum but become less frequent as numbers get higher.

Minding the gap
In his paper, titled “Bounded gaps between primes” and bearing his name alone, Zhang attacked the problem by proving that the number of primes that are less than 70 million units apart is infinite. While 70 million is a long, long way away from 2, Zhang’s work marked the first time anyone was able to assign any specific proven number to the gaps between primes. (For a highly detailed but clear explanation of Zhang’s approach and results, read this Quanta Magazine article by Erica Klarreich).

Zhang’s work builds on a 2005 breakthrough by Daniel Goldston of California’s San Jose State University; Janos Pintz of the Alfred Renyi Institute of Mathematics in Budapest, Hungary; and Cem Yildirim of Bogazici University in Istanbul, who together showed that there will always be pairs of primes that are much closer to each other than average spacing predicts.

They developed a “sieve” to filter for pairs of primes that are closer together than average, as did Zhang. When his paper got accepted, Zhang said he expected the formulas contained therein to form the basis for narrowing the 70 million gap. “We may reduce it,” he said at the time.

And they have. Terence Tao, a UCLA professor of mathematics and winner of the esteemed Fields Medal, launched Polymath8 as a forum where mathematicians could work to reduce that gap between 70 million and 2, which they did to 4,680 within a few months of Zhang submitting his paper.

That phase of the project was Polymath8a. In November, James Maynard, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Montreal, presented independent work that built on Zhang’s to further shrink the gap — to 600. The second phase of Polymath8, called Polymath8b, builds on Maynard’s work.

“Given the substantial progress made so far, it looks like we are close to the point where we should declare victory and write up the results,” Tao wrote on his blog Sunday.

“Right now the best bound on gaps between primes is 270,” he told Crave, “although we
can get it down to the remarkably low level of 6 if we assume a strong additional conjecture (the generalized Elliott-Halberstam conjecture).”

Polymath 8 has been one of the most active, visible Polymath projects to date, and Tao attributes the excitement surrounding it, in part, to Zhang’s compelling personal story — after suffering the hardships of the Cultural Revolution, Zhang earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Peking University, and completed a doctorate from Purdue, but had difficulty obtaining a university job in the US. Tao also credits the relative simplicity of the result, “which can be explained to any decent high-school math student (unlike many recent advances in mathematics).”

In addition, he said, Zhang’s proof came as something of a shock to the number theory community. “The approach Zhang tried had been considered and discarded by most other experts in the field.”

Zhang himself, a self-described “shy person,” said in a UNH statement that the proof came to him during a vacation in Colorado, when he was feeling particularly relaxed. “I didn’t bring any notes, any books, any paper,” he said. “And suddenly it came to me.”

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